Let me ask you a question I read recently. “Suppose you had a bank that credited your account with $86,400 every morning, and then every evening canceled whatever part of the amount you failed to use? What would you do? You’d spend every cent, of course!
Well, time is just such a bank. Every morning it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off whatever of those seconds you have failed to put to good purpose. Time carries no balance. Time allows no overdrafts. Every day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the records for the day.
If you fail to use the day’s deposit, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against tomorrow. You must live in the present on today’s deposit.” (source unknown)
Okay, so how do you maximize your 86,400 seconds? I’d like to share some time tips with you to help you gain control over your time, which will increase your productivity in the coming year.
Organize Your Time. Make appointments with yourself. Schedule time for all activities including personal time. Make sure to put recurring events on your calendar. Let go of some things to make room for other priorities in your life. If you schedule something (i.e., working out) and allocate time for it, rather than just thinking you should do it, the odds are better that it will actually happen.
Set a Timer. Set a time goal, rather than a completion goal. Often, a task seems so overwhelming that it’s easier not to start than to face the challenge. Rather than say, “I’m going to organize my basement today” tell yourself, “I’ll work on the basement for 30 minutes.” A half hour later you may not have the entire basement organized, but you will have achieved your goal for that day. A timer helps to keep you on track and the alarm gives you permission to stop.
Delegate. No one person can do it all, though many of us try. Let those around you feel valuable by letting them help when they offer, and then show your appreciation for what they’ve done. If no one is volunteering their assistance, consider hiring someone for the task. Like many things, it becomes a trade-off of time vs. money.
Let Your Fingers Do the Walking. Use the telephone to see if a store has the item you are looking for, and then ask them to mail it to you. Shop by catalog. Use the Internet. Save time by avoiding the drive to the mall, the search for a parking spot, and the potential pulls on your time (distractions, impulse purchases) while you’re there.
Write it Down. Writing things down, and grouping or categorizing them, saves time. If you have a list of all the tasks at hand, you’ll be less likely to have to retrace your steps because something was forgotten or overlooked. Grouping tasks that take similar energy together on your “to do” list (i.e., a list of all the phone calls you need to make) is efficient.
Put Your Goals on Paper. Have you heard the quote that states “a goal without a deadline is just a dream”? Studies show that people who have written goals are much more likely to actually accomplish them. Make sure your goals are SMART — specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. Stating “Lose 10 pounds by June 30, 2013” is SMART; “lose weight” is vague, generic and not specific.
Track Your Interruptions. For one week, jot down how much time unexpected phone calls, emails and visits from colleagues take up each day. Assess their importance to you. Consider letting your phone go to voice mail, schedule a “telephone hour” when you will return calls, create specific times to check email (and definitely turn off the chime that lets you know a new message has arrived) so that you can focus on the work at hand.
Simplify. Streamline your environment. The 80/20 Rule says that we use 20% of the things we own 80% of the time, whether it’s the clothes in your closet, the books on your shelves or the papers in your office. There are many worthwhile charities who would be grateful to receive your cast-offs. Eliminate the clutter from your life by donating unwanted, unused or duplicate items.
Wishing you a productive 2013!